WATCH: Mullingar Giving fundraising event in Market Square tomorrow
A Stephen's Day charity football match between a group of childhood friends from Mullingar has been expanded this year to try and raise as much funds as possible for three local causes.
In 2017, the friends organised the first instalment of the Yopra Cup, an at times feisty charity “friendly” football game between The Scorpies and The Dogs, with the winners earning bragging rights for the year.
Over the past five years, the friends have raised €70,000 for charities such as the North Westmeath Hospice, St. Vincent de Paul, cancer research, Meals on Wheels, and Ella’s Journey.
This year the funds raised will be shared between three very worthy beneficiaries: Mullingar Meals On Wheels, Lucy Thompson, a local 4-year-old girl with a life-limiting disease, and Hope House treatment and addiction centre.
The fundraiser, which is now called Mullingar Giving, has been expanded into four events. This Friday (December 23) they will be in the Market Square for a fundraiser with a difference.
From 3pm to 9pm, people will have the chance to knock some well known local faces into a plunge tank. The lads will also be selling tickets for a monster raffle with lots of big prizes.
On Christmas Eve there will be a fundraising “Jingle Bell Yop” workout at Wolfhound Fitness from 9am to 12pm. While all welcome to attend, people should message Wolfhound Fitness to book their slot in advance.
The main event, the now semi-legendary Yopra Cup, will once again take place at 11am on Stephen's Day at Mullingar Shamrocks' ground in Springfield.
Both teams have some well known faces among their ranks, including Conor Moore, and a number of Westmeath GAA players including John Heslin.
Mullingar's own global superstar Niall Horan has also been a good supporter of the event, but at the time of writing, it was unconfirmed whether he would be able to attend this year.
Last Christmas, The Scorpies, who are captained by Dean Moore, put in their best performance to date and recorded their first victory over The Dogs, who are captained by Niall Hardiman.
Dean's brother Conor told the Westmeath Examiner that The Dogs are eager to avenge last year's defeat at the hands of their younger opponents.
Another member of The Dogs is Niall Claffey. He says that the teams' two captains and the rest of the group have been working hard on this year's expanded programme of events and want to raise as much money as possible for their chosen beneficiaries.
“The whole thing started off in 2017 as a bit of craic and then we thought that we could also raise funds for people and organisations who could really do with a bit of help and it has grown year on year.
“This year is a little bit different. We are calling on local businesses to get behind it as well. The response from the people of Mullingar has been remarkable over the last five years and we want it to grow and grow.
“Niall and Dean have put in a lot of effort as have the other players as well. We just hope that as many people as possible can get to the events and lend their support for these great causes.”
A Mullingar Giving gofundme page has been set up and at the time of writing almost €4,000 had been donated. Sarah Jane Foster of SJF Productions has also joined forces with the lads to make a promotional video.